Reports: US ready to return Mexico to ‘Category 1’ safety status

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The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is reportedly poised to upgrade Mexico to “Category 1” safety status once again, clearing the way for airlines of both countries to add transborder capacity to their schedules.

The long-awaited upgrade is expected to come later this week, according to some news reports and industry observers.

“The US Federal Aviation Administration told the government of Mexico it will renew its [Category] 1 status this week,” writes Cowen financial analyst Helane Becker in a note published on 12 September. “This means the three Mexican airlines can once again resume growth into the US.”

Local Mexican media have also reported that the FAA and Mexican authorities held final meetings about the aviation safety audit on the recovery of Category 1 last week.

The FAA meantime, does not confirm that information, saying only, “We continue to provide assistance to Mexico’s civil aviation authority. We expect to conclude the process in the near future”.

Executives at several US and Mexican airlines have been eagerly anticipating the FAA’s safety upgrade to Category 1 for more than a year.

The FAA downgraded Mexico’s safety status to Category 2, from Category 1, in May 2021. The US aviation regulator said at the time that the country and its civil aviation authority AFAC no longer met ICAO safety standards.

Carriers of countries with a Category 2 status cannot launch new commercial services into the US or codeshare with US airlines, but long-standing relationships can continue.

They are also prohibited from adding new aircraft to routes.

Mas Air last year told Air Cargo News that the restrictions were a blockage to some of its expansion plans.

The airline’s chief executive Luis Sierra said: “That is a huge disadvantage for us. We can operate into Canada and in the US we can still operate the same route system and frequencies that we have had in the last 18 months, but at present we cannot add new routes in the US.”

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